Agenda item


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Members of the Panel received a presentation on the West Norfolk Economic Strategy.  A copy of the presentation is attached.


The Regeneration Programmes Manager highlighted that the Panel was receiving this update early on in the process and they would be provided with further opportunities to assist with development of the Strategy going forward.


Fiona Tuck from Metro Dynamics provided information on the key evidence points and how the strategy would be developed.


The Executive Director informed the Panel that this strategy was important to ensure alignment with the County and identify how West Norfolk could benefit from future funding streams.  The Strategy would also identify challenges, focus, and a timeline and identify key links with housing, health and education.


The Chair thanked officers for the presentation and invited questions and comments from the Panel, as summarised below.


Councillor Collingham stated that it was important that Councillors were involved to drive this forward.  She was also frustrated as she felt that this had been a long time coming and was repetitive of previous strategies and work undertaken by consultants.  Councillor Collingham highlighted issues the Borough was facing such as lack of a decent rail service and dual carriageways.  Councillor Collingham stated that data driven suggestions were required.


The Chair, Councillor Bearshaw, agreed that rail was pitiful in the area and three stations in the Borough was poor, especially as they had very little parking and the amount of homes being built would be increasing.  He also referred to RAF Marham and that it was important to consider this important asset which contributed to the local economy.


Councillor Collingham stated that the National Construction College was also an important asset to the area.


The Regeneration Programmes Manager thanked the Panel for their helpful points and reminded them that this was the first stage of the process and the comments from the Panel would help to shape thinking and build on the Strategy.  She explained that it was important to have a Strategy document in place which could be used for future Government Funding opportunities.


The Chair thanked officers for involving the Panel so early on in the process, so that they could help develop Policy.


Councillor Blunt referred to the important role of Agriculture in the Borough and felt that this was currently missing from the Strategy.  He stated that Agriculture provided jobs, technology and income and it needed to be prominent in the Strategy.


Councillor Blunt also commented that the role of Tourism also needed to be exploited in the Strategy as it was a major benefit to the local economy.  He also felt that reference to second homes should also be included as they did create jobs and brought in income.


The Chair referred to the West Winch development and how better rail links were required for commuters.


The Executive Director stated that as the Strategy developed further, there would be the opportunity to look at different elements in more detail and focus.  Consideration would also need to be given to what the Council could control and what it could merely influence.


Councillor Crofts asked that consideration be given to providing Coach Parking in the town centre, and promoting King’s Lynn as a day trip destination to coach operators.


Councillor Bone commented that transport routes needed improvement and he asked what assurances would be given that the West would not be forgotten about by Norfolk County Council.  Councillor Bone also referred to the historic and heritage offer that King’s Lynn had and that it should be promoted.


Councillor Colwell commented that this Strategy would be important so that the Borough had projects ready to take forward when opportunities were available.  He referred to the SWOT within the presentation and stated that some of the weaknesses could be made into positives, for example the amount of Brownfield sites in the Borough could attract Brownfield Funding.


Councillor Colwell welcomed this Strategy as a way to encourage people to live and work in the area and improve the quality of life for residents.  He stated that active, clean and green was important along with improvements to cycle and walkways.


Councillor Blunt commented that the Strategy should also refer to the needs of rural areas, which had different needs to urban areas.


Councillor Rose referred to flood issues, especially in his Ward, and the Executive Director stated that if flood issues were blockers to projects included in the Strategy, then they would be investigated.


The Vice Chair, Councillor Heneghan was pleased that the Panel would be involved in this piece of work and that there was an appetite to move West Norfolk forward to a vibrant place to live, work and play.


Councillor Bubb asked that consideration be given to attracting more industry to the area.  He felt that there was a lack of a retail offer in King’s Lynn and a Strategy for retail in the town was required.  He also referred to the lack of a Market and asked if consideration would be given to more pop up events.


Councillor Bubb also referred to the good standard of public toilets in the Borough and felt that they should be promoted more to tourists.


Councillor Colwell stated that if we wanted to encourage young people to stay in the area there needed to be a suitable provision of starter homes made available.


Councillor Colwell also referred to the presentation which highlighted the amount of residents over 65 who lived in the Borough.  He felt that there was work that could be taken forward to encourage and support those who wanted to work, or return to the workplace.


The Chair commented that it was important that infrastructure was in place before housing.  He also referred to traffic issues on the A149 and suggested that a monorail could be installed to link King’s Lynn to Hunstanton.  This would also serve as a tourist attraction as well as removing traffic from the A149.


The Portfolio Holder for Business, Councillor Beales, thanked the Panel for their useful comments, which would be considered as part of the Strategy formation, including those relating to Rail, promoting History and Heritage, Agriculture and Brownfield sites.  He explained that this Strategy was important for the Borough and it was important that the Panel were involved in the process going forward and he welcomed their input.


RESOLVED: The Panel noted the information, provided feedback as requested and would be kept involved in formation of the Strategy as appropriate.

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